Talking Points: United v Club Brugge
Manchester United put Club Brugge to the sword on Thursday night, with a win which secured our spot in the last 16 of the Europa League, courtesy of a 6-1 aggregate triumph.
REDS BAG FIVE
On Thursday, United won by a five-goal margin in a European game for the first time since the Champions League romp at Bayer Leverkusen in 2013. The last time Old Trafford witnessed us hitting the net as many times was almost exactly four years ago, when we beat Midtjylland in the same competition. The Reds dominated proceedings against Brugge from start to finish and could have come away with even more goals - in fact, we registered 28 shots on the opposition goal, 10 of which were on target.
Victory on Thursday means we’ve progressed to the last 16 of the Europa League for the fourth time in our history, since its rebranding in 2009/10 from the UEFA Cup. Also in the next round are fellow Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers, along with Scottish club Rangers, while experienced European outfits Inter Milan, Sevilla and Roma are in the hat for the last-16 draw. Arsenal crashed out to a late goal by Olympiacos and Celtic lost to FC Copenhagen.
Before Thursday, Ighalo hadn’t started a match since 1 December, but you certainly couldn’t tell. The striker looked sharp at Old Trafford and physically imposing - several times he easily held off a Brugge defender, before turning and either shooting or passing to a team-mate. His impressive display was rewarded with a thoroughly deserved goal midway through the first half. The Nigerian anticipated Juan Mata’s pass across the box and poked it past Simon Mignolet, to the delight of the majority inside the Theatre of Dreams.
Story of the second legGallery
These are the outstanding photos from our Europa League match against Club Brugge.
Much was made of Bruno’s excellent showing last weekend, but, against Brugge, the midfielder was, if anything, even better. The Portugal international’s ability to link attack and midfield was great and, throughout the night, he repeatedly slipped through-balls into the opposition box. Bruno also regularly dropped deep during the game and sprayed passes into the final third. Like during Sunday’s 3-0 victory against Watford, Bruno once again got things going from the penalty spot. His spot-kick was slipped perfectly into the corner and, in doing so, he became the first Portuguese player to net in consecutive United games since Nani in 2012.
Sergio Romero had one of his quieter nights in between the sticks and actually didn’t face a single shot on target. That means, the Reds emerged with another clean sheet, our sixth in the last seven games. The only player to find the back of the net against United in the last month was Emmanuel Denis, in the first leg of our last-32 clash.
FRED IN THE GOALS
Fred has been one of the Reds’ most consistent players this season, but one thing that has been lacking in his game is goals and assists. However, our no.17 went about remedying that on Thursday and netted only his second and third goals for United. For his first of the night, Fred was teed-up by Jesse Lingard in the 82nd minute, before curling one in from just outside the area in injury-time, which was actually United’s last touch in the game. On top of this, Fred set up Scott McTominay for his goal just before the break and linked well with Bruno in the centre of the park throughout the night.
Reading this in our app? If not, you might miss some exclusive features not found on ManUtd.com. Download the Official App here.